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Grayson Highlands SUL Attempt
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Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
Grayson Highlands SUL Attempt on 06/16/2010 01:57:54 MDT Print View

I got hurt recently and it sounds like I won't be backpacking much for a while. In the meantime I think I'll post pictures from some of my older trips.

This is from my first attempt at SUL in 2008. At this point I did not have a lot of the proper gear so it was kind of an improv trip. I'm pretty sure I was a tad over 5 pounds baseweight so I missed the bragging rights of actually going SUL (this time anyway). On the other hand I'd never had such a light pack and it was an awesome trip. It was also my brother's first try at UL backpacking. He didn't attempt SUL but he got his baseweight down to around 8 pounds.

Daniel with his pack.

Daniel used a Camalbak daypack for his gear and stiffened it up with a folded sleeping mat.

Me with my wonderful Ion.

I used a Golite Ion I had bought for this trip. I rigged up a mesh pocket for the back to hold my water bottle an odds and ends.

I almost cancelled this trip because somehow I had pulled a muscle or something in my back. It was giving me a very sharp pain on the side of my back whenever my pack rolled unto it. I descided to tough it out and at least attempt the trip.


We hiked from Elk Garden to the Thomas Knob shelter where we saw our first pony of the trip. Daniel pointed out that someone needed to inform the pony it was wild. He walked right up to us looking for handouts.


We took our time along the ridge enjoying the views. I was enjoying myself and my feather weight pack but my back still hurt. I had brought a couple of asperin but not enough to drug myself up for the whole trip.

After passing Rhododendrin Gap I was really hurting and we were discussing turning around. By chance a gentlemen overheard us and offered us his supply of Tylenol. Turns out he was a wilderness EMT on a hike. He told me I could take a bit extra as long as it didn't upset my stomach. I was willing to risk a stomach ach so I popped them in and kept going. After about 30 minutes I was feeling a lot better. That wonderful guy probably saved us from bailing out on our trip (lesson learned I take enough aspirin for such emergancies now).



Once I was feeling better we picked up the pace a lot. Our goal was to cover as many miles as we could and camp back near Thomas Knob shelter. We passed several groups of boys scouts. All of them were carrying big packs. Some were reasonable if not UL, others were so bad I felt guilty with my tiny pack. I watched one boy stumbled and almost sprain and angle with a top heavy back. I advised to move some weight down and pick up a walking stick.

A little friend

Great View!

We took a side trip before hitting the Scales to add another mile or two to our day. By now I was calculating we would do about 18 miles that day. Not 20 but more than we'd ever done before.

Heading toward Scales

As we looped back we passed another group of boy scouts making camp. Around 8:30 or so we got out our lights for the last mile to the shelter.


Evening hiking

There was a campsite near the shelter but we didn't feel like setting up our poncho tarps so we went into the shelter and crashed for the night. We slept well except that an annoying pony kept stomping around and waking us up.

Morning fog

We wake up to see the valleys filled with fog and the mountains peaking up. We ate breakfast and chatted with the boy scouts who had camped next to us. They seemed to be a well organized group with a lot of hand me down gear and cheap wal mart gear. They seemed to be making the best of what they had. One of the dad's remembered us and they were impressed we had done the loop and come back.


My favorite shot of the trip

We hiked out to our car fairly quickly. Daniel ran the last little bit to the car just to say he'd run on a backpacking trip. I would have joined him but I'd worked up a blister and didn't feel like it.

Running with a backpack

All in all it was an awesome trip. I pushed my limit of what I could do, I got my younger brother into UL backpacking and I explored a new area.

Edited by Cameron on 06/16/2010 09:29:22 MDT.

Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
Panorama shot on 06/16/2010 12:24:06 MDT Print View


Heres a panoram from Second Peak toward the end of the day. I finally figured out how to upload these things.

Trevor Wilson
(trevor83) - MLife

Locale: ATL -- Zurich -- SF Bay Area
Grayson Highlands SUL Attempt on 06/16/2010 12:37:57 MDT Print View

Good thing for the wilderness EMT! Sounds like a great trip and good to hear your first "SUL" trip went well. The Grayson Highlands area is definitely an area I'd like to check out. Thanks for posting.

Tom Clark
(TomClark) - MLife

Locale: East Coast
Re: Grayson Highlands SUL Attempt on 06/29/2010 10:21:32 MDT Print View

Grayson is one of my favorite places. once you heal up, you should try it in the winter, but be sure to check the weather report since it gets some bad storms.

Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
Winter in Grayson on 06/29/2010 10:49:40 MDT Print View

Thanks Tom, I'll keep that in mind come winter. I did see a picture of Wildburn Rige covered in snow and it looked awesome. I'm able to do a bit more now so I'm actually hoping to get back to Grayson with my 12 year old little brother and do a real SUL trip.